My immigrant visa journey ended with the spouse visa interview at the United States embassy. It took place less than a year after we initiated my marriage-based petition with USCIS, and it concluded with an approval. In other words, I obtained a visa that would allow me to apply for entrance to the U.S. as an immigrant; if granted, I’d have been admitted as a permanent resident (and I was).
Getting the Spouse Visa Interview Appointment
After you apply for a spouse visa at the National Visa Center, your paperwork gets sent to the U.S. embassy and you are assigned a visa interview date. Appointment dates are posted on embassy websites in the visa section. That’s how we got mine long before I received the actual appointment letter. I remember the dates were in a downloadable PDF file. Each applicant’s NVC case number appeared next to his or her interview date. No real names shown. I knew which one was mine, of course.
Some time later, I received a letter for my spouse visa interview. The letter listed the time and date of the interview and a checklist of documents. Because I’d already sent the required paperwork to NVC, I didn’t have to bring any more– except for the medical exam results, the appointment letter and supporting evidence of my marriage.
Required Documents Checklist
So what did I bring with me? It wasn’t a lot. Most of it was evidences of a bona fide relationship. But remember, it’s different for everybody. Pay attention to what your interview letter asks for because that’s what you need to bring.
Here’s a list of my luggage:
- Original passport (they can’t give you a visa without it)
- Interview appointment letter
- Evidence of bona fide marriage
- Sealed envelope containing results of spouse visa medical exam
What kind of supporting evidence of marriage? Stuff such as:
- Lease agreement
- Receipts and tickets
- Email printouts
- Phone bills
- Bank statements
All originals, sorted in a bag.
Coming to the United States Embassy
My husband accompanied me to the embassy that day. The interview was set for early in the morning. We woke up early, pretty much skipped breakfast and headed out together. I dressed in matching dark clothes but it was nothing too “corporate.”
Once we got there, I knew instantly it was a high-security area. I’d been to other embassies before. You feel the difference. Anyway, after I turned over some stuff (no cell phone or camera allowed inside), I proceeded to the immigrant visa section. It was quiet there.
I couldn’t take my spouse with me inside. But knowing he was right around the corner helped my spirits a lot.
Note: If you checked in any items, you should get a piece of paper with a number o n it. Don’t lose it. You’ll need it to claim your items on the way out.
The Pre-screening of Paperwork
I went to a designated window for the pre-screening. There I turned over the medical exam envelope and they checked my list of documents to make sure everything was there. It was pretty quick. After that, I took a seat and waited. Had time to talk with a few other applicants. We were the first batch of interviewees that day.
What was going on in my head? Not much. I’d been distracted by personal matters at the time, which took my mind off the visa process somewhat. Maybe that actually helped me be more detached and controlled.
The Spouse Visa Interview
After half an hour, I heard my name called over a microphone. I was told which window number to go to so I went there. I looked through a glass to see an American woman in black. The interviewer was very business-like, not smiling. We greeted each other briefly, and then she immediately said she’d ask only a few questions. She asked a few things like you’d expect from a spouse visa or fiance visa interview, if I’d ever been in the States before and all. She then had me sign the DS-230 form and took my fingerprints with a computer-like device. After about 10 minutes, she handed me a slip with a pickup date for my spouse visa. All the time, it felt like she was in a hurry.
Yes, it was that quick. Pretty anti-climactic.
My husband and I dined out to celebrate. Needless to say, we were very happy and relieved! We enjoyed our meal to the fullest and then shared the good news with family. It was a happy day.
Picking Up the Passport and Spouse Visa
We went together to pick up my passport with an immigrant visa. The security check is the same when you return. You have no visa interview letter to show, but your name has to be on the list of guests that day (to pick up the visa) or else you had to explain why you had to be there.
I went back into the immigrant visa area. Once again, I chatted with other applicants. It was much more enjoyable this time since we were all approved. The mood was happy and rather excited.
I saw a man wearing eyeglasses distributing passports to several people. When it was my turn, he handed me my passport, and he also gave me a sealed envelope that I must NOT open. No one must open it because it will be inspected at the Port of Entry when you apply for admission to American soil. I also recall there was a sheet of paper about Social Security that was attached to it.
I looked over my spouse visa to check it for errors like a misspelled name, and found none. Let me tell you, that visa looked good! And I didn’t look half bad in my ID shot either. he he he
What’s in the envelope? I saw it labeled as something like, “DO NOT OPEN!… THIS IS YOUR VISA!”
At this point, I knew the hardest part was really over. I went back home with my husband with the envelope. We guarded it carefully up to the time we would turn it over at the POE.
Spouse Visa Interview Tips
So that’s my boring account. If you ask me what advice I could give others, it would be something like this:
- Come prepared
- Dress well for the occasion, but no need to be too formal
- Keep calm during the interview
- Be polite and answer clearly and truthfully
- I’m not sure if I was able to bring a snack, but I would if it’s allowed
- Don’t forget anything when you leave the embassy.
And lastly, check out U.S. immigration guides like NOLO books, or read up in visa forums for tips and inside scoops from other applicants. Good luck!
Additional Thoughts on the U.S. Embassy
Very big place. Highly secure. Don’t tell jokes or look stupid. Don’t give them any reason to suspect you. They may ask if you have a cell phone or camera. You’d have to turn them in and pick them up again on your way out.
The Visa Interview Area
It was medium-sized room with several numbered, bulletproof indows. There were chairs where you could sit. When your name was called, you were told which window to go to. The sponsor-petitioner may or may not be allowed in the interview area. It depends on the embassy you go to. Check in advance.
Your interviewer stands behind a glass window while you stand on the other side. You don’t sit down like you would for a regular interview. Any paperwork you sign (like the DS-230 II) is passed under the glass. Fingerprints are taken digitally. Don’t know if that’s how it is with all embassies though.
As for what the consul (interviewer) is like: This varies from person to person. From what you’ll read in visa forums, there are as many kinds as there are applicants. Some will ask more questions than others, and some are more serious than others. It’s important to keep polite, respectful and responsive no matter the attitude of the person you are dealing with. I wasn’t very comfortable with mine, to be honest. But it went well.
Spouse Visa Interview Questions
Some questions are typical. You’ll find them in sample visa interview questions online and in books. “Where’d you meet?” “How long was your first visit?” “Where will you live in the States?” “How soon will you come to the U.S.?”
Other questions might not be so predictable. There’s no way to know in advance because that’s up to the interviewer and depends on the facts you’ve presented. Keep in mind they will also judge you by your demeanor and your answers as well as by your paperwork.
Get competent advice if you think you’ll need it for the interview.
The Immigrant Spouse Visa
The immigrant visa took a full page in my passport, in color. It was a very pretty-looking visa. There’s a scan of another type of U.S. visa in Wikipedia that looks a lot like it: US B1/B2 visa.
Aside from my photo it also included information such as:
- Name and birth date of the applicant (me)
- Post (i.e. embassy) that issued the visa
- Visa type and category
- Date of issue of the visa
- Expiration date of the visa
- Visa case number
- Passport number
Note that although I had my spouse visa at this point, I still didn’t have a stamp of admission to the States as a lawful permanent resident. That would have to wait until we reached the Port of Entry and presented the sealed envelope.
Final Words on Visa Interview
So that ends the spouse visa interview and the visa process for me. I still had to apply for admission to the States, of course. But now the toughest part was over. If you ever share your story with others in visa forums, you’ll understand why people congratulate one another. You’ll really feel happy for those who pass their interviews.
I sincerely hope all goes well for you and your loved one(s) during your interview, if you are going to have one!